Report: UT President, Powers, Improperly Influenced Admissions

A report shows University of Texas at Austin President Bill Powers influenced the admission of students connected to powerful Texans. 

By David BrownFebruary 13, 2015 8:16 am

The Dallas Morning News reported Thursday morning that UT President Bill Powers used his authority to get some applicants admitted to the UT system’s flagship school. The report also says that Powers misled internal lawyers looking into influence-peddling in the admissions office.

“What the report concludes pretty much goes into two categories: one, that politics and powerful people clearly played some role in the admissions in the undergraduate school and the law school and then, the other element that I think that’s fairly damning, is that President Powers wasn’t forthcoming with investigators when they questioned him about it,” Morning News writer Rudolph Bush says. “That he mislead those who were doing the inquiry by making material admissions of facts.”

The report concludes, specifically, that over a six-year period there were 73 of what Bush calls “grossly sub-par applicants.” Applicants with SAT scores below 1100, grade point averages below 2.9 – these applicants, the report concludes, did get in through political influence.

“Now there is a gray area with many more applicants who were qualified in certain ways and unqualified in other ways and politicians or regents or other powerful people wrote letters on their behalf,” Bush says. “What the report says is that President Powers had the ability to put holds on certain applications and that he would put 300 applications on hold a year.”

Bush says, if you had a hold from the president, your chance of getting into UT undergrad was about 73% versus 40% for the general application pool.

This story was prepared with assistance by Victoria Garcia.